Officials Considering New Space For State’s Attorney’s Office

Officials Considering New Space For State’s Attorney’s Office
Commissioner Chip Bertino was one of several county officials who toured space in Ocean City’s new public works building proposed for the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

SNOW HILL – County officials continue to explore the possibility of moving a portion of the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office to Ocean City.

Since the Town of Ocean City offered space to the state’s attorney’s office as it expands in preparation for the implementation of police body camera programs, several Worcester County Commissioners have toured the location. Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said there were still questions that needed to be answered and that the board would be discussing the proposal in the future.

“We’re going to put the space up in Ocean City back on the agenda once we get all the details in front of us,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino brought the issue up at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, citing concerns he had after touring the offered space. The town said State’s Attorney Kris Heiser could use 1,500 square feet on the ground floor of the town’s new public works building while the second floor of the building was being finished. Once it’s set up for offices in 2023, the county would be able to lease the space for five years with an additional five-year renewal. The cost of the lease would be the annual debt service, prorated based on the space used by the state’s attorney’s office.

Bertino, who toured the space with Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins last week, said he appreciated the resort’s offer but had some concerns.

“I was told there was no parking available for any state’s attorney employees that would be there, save for one parking space that would be reserved for the state’s attorney,” he said.

He said it also wasn’t clear how many employees Heiser wanted in Ocean City.

“The numbers range anywhere from seven employees up to 45 employees,” Bertino said. “That’s a lot of cars. And with a firehouse being constructed in front of that area they’re losing 100 parking spaces. Has that been, is that a conversation that’s being had?”

Mitrecic said questions regarding the potential move were still being answered.

“As far as the parking goes, as much respect as I have for Mr. Adkins, he wants to build a parking garage up there so he’s going to make the parking issues up there sound more dire than they may be,” Mitrecic said.

Bertino said he also wasn’t sure the state’s attorney’s office should move.

“There are a fair amount of cases that come out of Pocomoke and Snow Hill and I don’t think those people of those areas should be disenfranchised if in fact we’re moving the entire state’s attorney’s office or a great portion thereof up to Ocean City,” he said.

Mitrecic said Heiser would still have a presence in Snow Hill.

“A lot of her case load is up there at the court house in Ocean City,” he said. “A majority I would think she would say… I’m just saying what I was told. Now do I think she would rather have a five-minute ride to work than a 30-minute ride? Maybe. That’s something we have to iron out with her definitely as we move forward.”

Earlier this month, the commissioners approved Heiser’s plan to hire six new attorneys and six legal assistants. She said her office had to expand staffing to handle the influx of video as police throughout the area begin to implement body camera programs. The Ocean City Police Department is expected to have body cameras in place by the summer while Maryland State Police will have cameras in place in 2023. The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is also moving toward implementing cameras before the state’s 2025 deadline.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.